Perhaps because these words are spelled and pronounced similarly, they are often confused. However, “then” and “than” are different words with different meanings and it is important to understand how and when to use each of them. Here are some tips to help you.
“Than” is used in comparisons:
- Carol is taller than Jane.
- The steak entree was more expensive than the chicken.
Use “than” when you are comparing one thing to another.
“Then” joins two clauses that are separated by time:
- Mario cleared our salad plates, then served the entrees.
- Read the guidelines, then complete the mystery shop visit.
Use “then” when you are saying that something happened after something else.
- When time is involved, use “then.” A trick to remember this is that “when” has to do with time and it rhymes with “then.”
- When you are comparing two things, use “than.” All other usage is “then.”